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Thursday, 2 September 1993
Page: 867


Senator COULTER —My question is directed to the Minister for Science and Small Business and minister representing the minister for the environment. Does the minister accept that the price differential between leaded and unleaded petrol introduced in the budget will not of itself be sufficient to stop leaded petrol being used? Secondly, is it not a fact that, even if all the cars that can use unleaded petrol were to make the shift as a consequence of this price differential, then some 20 to 25 per cent of cars on the road would still be using leaded petrol? Thirdly, is the government aware of the success of the use of ethanol as an octane enhancer and a substitute for lead, and what assistance will the government give to expand this indigenous source of a renewable energy?


Senator SCHACHT —Obviously, though there is a differential between leaded and unleaded petrol, which will be an encouragement for people to use cars that use only unleaded petrol as time goes by, no-one can state categorically that it will eliminate all cars that use leaded petrol. The government has never said that.

   Clearly, there will be some market pressure to encourage people to shift from cars using leaded petrol to ones using unleaded petrol. Senator Coulter said in his question that 20 to 25 per cent of the cars on the road would still be using leaded petrol; I do not know whether that means immediately or whether he is talking about in a few years time. I will certainly try to get some more information about the projections for the percentages of cars using leaded petrol over, say, the rest of this decade. On Senator Coulter's last question about the use of ethanol as an octane enhancer, I have to admit that I have no details with me. I have no recollection of being briefed about ethanol as an octane enhancer. But I can assure the honourable senator that I will get the information and get it back to him next week.